(CNN Spanish) — Fugitive since 1993 and considered by Europol As one of the most wanted men in Europe, Italian mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro was eventually detained by police while receiving medical treatment in Sicily, according to the prosecution.
But who exactly is “Diabolik”—as this Cosa Nostra kingpin is known—and why was he so sought after?
Denaro is considered one of the successors to Bernardo Provenzano, the mafia boss arrested outside Corleone, Sicily, in April 2006.
It was condemned to life in absentia in 1992 for his role in the murders of anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, and is held responsible for dozens of other Mafia-related murders.
“Diabolik” had allegedly been seen in September 2021, leading to a manhunt and hundreds of leads, according to the prosecutor Maurizio de Lucia.
He was arrested this Monday, January 16, during a raid carried out at dawn by specialized agents of the anti-mafia Carabinieri, while he was being treated at a clinic in Palermo, Sicily. Born in 1962, according to data from Europolis 60 years old and is of Italian nationality.
During his years as a fugitive from justice, Denaro continued to lead the Sicilian Mafia through a network of collaborators, some of whom had no criminal record and little to suggest they had a connection to organized crime. including a shepherd, a dairy farm owner, a truck driver and an inspector, agree with the Italian authorities.
These “men of honor” transmitted Denaro’s orders. They met clandestinely in remote parts of the countryside to deliver letters from the boss – or “pizzini” – using carefully coded language when they spoke to avoid detection, a police news release said.
In 2015, 11 of these collaborators were arrested by the Italian police and it was believed that Denaro’s organization had received a severe blow, although his capture only came on Monday.
Denaro was considered the successor of Bernardo Provenzano, captured in 2006, as head of the Sicilian Mafia. At that time, the researchers pounced about Provenzano – a fugitive since 1963 – in the town of Corleone, near his hometown in Sicily, famous for appearing in the “Godfather” novels written by Mario Puzo.
Provenzano, who was then 73 years old, was accused by the authorities of having taken charge of Cosa Nostra with an iron fist since he took office.
With information from Barbie Latza Nadeau, Antonia Mortensen and Laura Smith-Spark.